It’s extremely important to me that women have a solid understanding of how beneficial routine chiropractic care can be during the prenatal and postpartum period. As a doula trained in the Spinning Babies technique I have come to develop a deep appreciation for the ligaments that hold the pelvis in place. Keeping the pelvis balanced and supple during pregnancy can make for an easier pregnancy, labor and birth. This can lead to more women who experience satisfaction with their birth experience and who doesn’t want that?
Today’s blog post was written by Dr. Shelly King owner of King Chiropractic, a wonderful chiropractic practice right in the heart of Chelmsford, Massachusetts. Dr. King is certified in the Webster Technique and specializes in working with women. She has two children of her own.
Chiropractic Care to Prepare for Birth
by Dr. Shelly King
I believe that the prenatal/postpartum period is one of the most important times in a woman’s life to receive chiropractic care. A mother’s body changes in many amazing ways during the nine months of pregnancy, but unfortunately certain changes can lead to aches and pains. The hormone Relaxin causes ligaments to loosen and the pelvis to widen to accommodate the growing baby. As wonderful as this is it can often leads to instability of the pelvic joints, causing pain in the lower back, hips, buttocks, and sometimes in the pubic joint. Increased breast size often causes strain of the upper back and neck. Weight gain during pregnancy commonly causes plantar fasciitis, a painful condition in the arches of the feet.
A chiropractor can help in a variety of ways such as restoring the proper motion to joints that have become “stuck” or misaligned, releasing tight muscles, giving advice for stretches and exercises or at-home practice, and fitting you with a brace if necessary. Prenatal chiropractic is quite gentle and safe for both mother and baby; many women feel immediate relief. I can tell you from personal experience that I would not have been able to work until the end of both my pregnancies if I hadn’t been receiving regular chiropractic care and massage.
Another reason a woman might seek chiropractic care is if her baby is in a breech position. Since the uterus is directly attached to the pelvis via ligaments, any torsion of the pelvis can also create a torsion of the uterus. This can restrict the movement of the baby and make it more difficult for him/her to assume the head-down position. Through gentle adjustments to the pelvis and ligaments (Webster Technique), a chiropractor can correct the torsion and allow the baby to turn on its own.
It is important to note that the chiropractor never actually tries to “flip the baby” during this procedure – that would be considered obstetrics. We simply create more space in the uterus and hope the baby decides to cooperate. In about 75-85% of cases, the baby does flip and the mother is able to have a natural delivery. Even if your baby is not breech, it makes sense to get your pelvis checked out and adjusted if necessary. The pelvic outlet is not very big, and when it comes to pushing out a baby, every little millimeter counts! Many women report quicker and easier deliveries after receiving chiropractic care. Again, my personal experience complies with this theory- my second son was born after only 90 minutes of labor and about 10 minutes of pushing.
I always like to follow up with my pregnant patients after they deliver their babies. This is partially for selfish reasons so I can get my “new baby fix”, but also to give the new mother a little TLC. Usually lower back pain resolves after the baby is born, but new moms commonly experience neck and upper back pain due to holding, feeding, and constantly looking down to gaze at their beautiful creations. New moms also typically need advice for strengthening their weakened core muscles and pelvic floor.
If you are experiencing discomfort during pregnancy, or if you just want to optimize your ability to have a natural birth, I highly recommend seeking out a chiropractor who specializes in prenatal care and/or the Webster Technique.
You can head over to Dr. King’s website to make an appointment for an adjustment or check out my resources page to help you connect with someone near you.